The Sinner's Bargain (Contracts & Deceptions #2)

BOOK: The Sinner's Bargain (Contracts & Deceptions #2)
2.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


The Sinner’s Bargain

Published by Claire Contreras, 2014

Cover Photo by
Najla Qamber

Photo Rights: Tomasz Zienkiewicz

Formatting by
Champagne Formats

Edited by Tracey Buckalew

Copyright © 2014 by Claire Contreras

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems-except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews-without permission in writing from its publisher, Claire Contreras.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s awesome imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons.

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I would like to dedicate this book to the two women who read it one thousand and one times, put up with my endless rewrites, random changes and crazy rants about how bad I wanted to trash it. Without them, this book would not have gotten finished.

This one is for you, Lisa and Rachel.

And to my readers, for wanting more.




Warning: If you have not read The Devil’s Contract, please do not proceed. This is not a standalone novel.


THE WORD “OWN” stayed on Amara’s mind long after it left Colin’s mouth. He made her repeat it back to him, as if he needed an affirmation of what he already knew. It didn’t sit right with Amara. When you own a pet, you promise to look after them, feed them when they’re hungry, make sure they’re okay. In exchange for this, animals are loyal to you. That was one of the reasons Amara had an issue with his sudden feeling of ownership toward her. Humans are fickle beings. We take what’s given to us with very little intent of giving back.

“You’re scaring me,” Amara whispered, trying to hold in the tears as he glared at her. He’d already made it clear that he didn’t believe they were real tears. He didn’t believe that she could care about him if she’d lied and left him the way she had.

“Am I?” he asked with a rueful chuckle she’d never heard from him before. His eyes were dark and slightly narrowed on hers, as if he was trying to figure out who the woman in front of him was. As if he hadn’t known her his entire life. As if they hadn’t shared a bed together countless times.

“Why am I here?” she asked, looking at her surroundings. She hadn’t known what to expect when she’d walked into the apartment. The only thing she knew was that Samuel had sent her here, to him.

Colin smiled and stepped away, tucking his hands into his pockets. His wavy hair was unruly and was down past his ears, longer than he usually had it. When his right hand sneaked out of his pocket again, it was to scrub over the days-old beard growing on his face. He looked a mess—a refined mess—but still a mess.

“I hired Samuel to get you here. I’ve jumped through hoops to get you here, Amara,” he said, turning his back to her as he walked toward the bar on the far side of the living room. “And here you are.” He turned, signaling at her, at the apartment. “You’ll stay here as long as you’re in New York, and you’ll be here permanently. I’ve made sure of that.”

Amara began to wobble slightly on her heels. She leaned back against the floor-to-ceiling window behind her and placed her hands flat on the surface of the cold glass. She wondered absently what would happen if it cracked beneath the pressure. Would she fall or would she soar? She kept her eyes on Colin, the boy who’d saved her from boring family barbeques. The kid who propositioned her in college. The man who owned her heart. But he wasn’t Colin—not the one she knew, anyway—not the easy to love, charming man she knew a short time ago. This guy had a darkness in him that hadn’t been there before.

“Why?” she asked. The word was a whisper, half-muted by the dryness of her throat.

He shook his head, hair falling into his eyes. “I’m not here to answer any questions. You either work for me, or you work for Philip. The way I see it, you’re better off working for me.”

“That’s not how this works. I don’t work for Philip. I owe Philip. I’m indebted to him. Under contract. There are lives at stake if I don’t repay.” Her voice was surprisingly steady when she answered. Clearly, channeling her mom—remembering her poor health —was giving her the strength she needed.

“It’s done with! I paid him. You don’t owe him anything anymore. You’ll be assisting me in Wolfe starting Monday morning, and you’ll be staying here.”

She knew she wasn’t done with Philip. There was no way. But when Amara opened her mouth to protest, she closed it again. Colin walked toward her with a look that stunned her into silence. He reached her in three long strides as her chest began to work against itself, struggling to breathe. When the scent of his cologne invaded her senses, she focused on not being affected by it. It was the one Colin had always worn, but yet the man in front of her was a stranger. Everything about their encounter felt wrong, even as her stomach dipped in anticipation when his fingers tilted her chin up.

“I’m watching you.” He dropped his hand and inched his face closer to hers, letting his breath fan over her cheek. “I’m watching everything,” he whispered beside her ear. “We’re going to do this my way now.”

The squeak of the bedroom door opening alerted Amara of his presence. She’d learned to sleep lightly, always expecting his unannounced visits. Squinting her eyes as unwanted light from the living room seeped in, she propped herself up on her elbows.

“What now?” she croaked, as Colin’s figure approached her bed.

He thought it was his prerogative to visit her at any time he liked. According to him, he could do with her as he pleased. He hadn’t touched her, though. Even after a full week, he still hadn’t touched her. She wasn’t sure if she should be upset or thrilled about that, but the uncertainty didn’t last very long. Amara had bigger things to worry about, like her mother’s health and the fact that she still had to go to Wicked, Méchant’s American company, without Colin finding out.

It wasn’t the fairytale she’d dreamed up for herself when she’d imagined being with him again…probably because she wasn’t with him at all. It felt more like she simply existed in his world, but nothing more.

“Just checking to see if you’re still here,” Colin responded, as he reached the foot of the bed and sat down heavily.

“Where would I go?” she asked, leaning up on her elbows to look at him. Even though she couldn’t see him clearly in the dark, she saw his shrugging movement.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what women who sell their bodies for money are in the habit of doing,” he said. His tone was lighter now, but still had a bite to it that made her cringe.

“Maybe you should go home and ask Molly.”

Colin was quiet for a while. “Why did you do it? Why didn’t you ask me for help if you needed it?”

Amara sighed and plopped back onto her pillow. She could smell the alcohol and cigar smoke on his breath. The only time he wasn’t hostile toward her these days, was when he was drunk, often enough now, especially at night. She probably didn’t owe him an answer

it’s not like he actually cared

but she spoke nonetheless.

“Things aren’t always what they seem, Colin. You of all people should know that.”

BOOK: The Sinner's Bargain (Contracts & Deceptions #2)
2.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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